10 Facts About Solar Panels You Probably Didn’t Know
It’s very well known how great solar panels are at saving home and business owners money and their value in saving the planet. Still, there may be some solar panel facts you didn’t know. Consider this your solar panel “fun facts,” if you will, with everything from their history and capabilities to investment and savings. This list is your 10 most interesting solar panel facts!
Facts you may not know...
Our list of facts, in no particular order:
1. Indirect light is just fine for solar
That’s right! Solar panels provide power no matter their location. They can even produce in the shade! Solar radiation is everywhere; therefore, its photons will interact with the solar cells inside a panel no matter what. Granted, direct sunlight gives better electrical output, but you would be surprised how little being in indirect sunlight actually impacts solar panel output. Solar panels work with and capture all parts of the light spectrum.
2. Solar panels have been around since the 1940s
Humanity has used solar energy for a long time. Solar power, the way we know it, dates back to the idea that sparked the technology, the photovoltaic effect. Edmond Becquerel, a French scientist, explained his discovered principle detailing how the sun’s rays could create an electrical current. In 1941, Russel Ohl used the concepts in the photovoltaic effect to make the first solar cell. In 1954, Bell Laboratories started manufacturing the first commercial panels. One of the prominent uses, to power beach radios.
3. Solar-powered homes reduce tons of CO2 emissions
One hundred tons eliminated over 30 years, to be exact. Translation, solar power is clean energy that makes a critical impact. Using this technology eliminates the amount of carbon in our atmosphere, pollution in our environment, and devastation to ecosystems, not to mention the amount of water consumed to make energy. Yeah, it takes clean water to produce energy. Go figure. Having solar panels connected to your residence will reduce, on average, in the U.S. household five pounds of nitrogen oxide, eight pounds of sulfur dioxide, and over 1,400 pounds of CO2 emissions each month. That’s huge!
4. There are 23x more solar power installations in the U.S. than there were just eight years ago
The growing popularity of solar power in the U.S. has made it the third-largest market worldwide. Solar technology keeps getting better and cheaper, resulting in many Americans turning to it for their energy needs.
5. You can get one year’s energy for the planet from one hour of sunlight
Yeah, it’s that powerful. There are 1,000 watts of energy per square meter, making the sun the most abundant energy source for our planet. As solar panel technology continues to develop, the industry will eventually increase the amount of solar energy we can harness. Right now, solar panels can harvest approximately 23% of those 1,000 watts, and you see the benefits. Imagine when it’s 100%. Investing in solar technology advancement is the way to solve our energy needs because sunlight is everywhere.
6. Guess who’s solar energy’s biggest advocate in the U.S., California
The west coast has been the biggest investor of solar panels for a while. Other parts of the country are catching on, but, in 2017 alone, California’s solar power generation reached 20,163 MW, enough to power 3.7 million homes. North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and New Jersey are next on the list trying to catch up.
7. Solar panels generate up to about 20 watts/ft2
On average, most solar panels produce 225 watts of power every hour. You can get up to the high 300s, almost 400 watts per hour for the more efficient solar panels. What does that mean? Well, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) calculates the average home in America uses 10,400 kWh annually (2019). Therefore, you would only need 60ft2 of rooftop space to provide all your energy needs at 20 watts/ft2 panels.
8. Solar Energy pays for itself
Right now, Californians get a 26% tax credit on new solar systems, as of now, and will offset their energy bills immediately upon installation. Let’s say your solar system's price tag is $30,000, don’t worry, financing is available. That would give you $7,800 credit on your taxes. If you don’t owe taxes, then you get that money in a check, but if you do, then it will go against what you owe. Californians pay $0.21 per kWh, and, at the EIA average, that is $2,184 annually. That means:
$30,000 - $7,800 (tax credit) - $2,184 (for year one) = $20,016 left
$20,016 / $2,184 = nine years + initial year = 10 years total
Solar panels have a 25-year lifespan; therefore, your system is paid off in 10 years (conservative estimate) and earns you pocket money for at least 15 years. Due to the other incentives and benefits from solar panels, most investors get their system paid off in 3-5 years. With panels becoming more efficient and being the only thing to replace after 25 years, your next 25-year earnings will be that much more lucrative.
9. Airplanes can run on solar power
In 2016, the Solar Impulse 2 flew around the world on nothing other than solar power. It only carried one person, but it was the breakthrough that will lead to the future’s solar-powered jumbo jets. Solar energy is already powering cars and trains, so getting the airline industry onboard is just a matter of time.
10. Solar can be a community thing
Community solar systems are now servicing neighborhoods for their energy needs. Now, instead of putting solar panels on one roof, entire communities can get a system to power the block.
No matter what, having experts get this incredible power to you is a beautiful process, especially with top-notch people like Option One Solar.